VE MEGATRON

MEGATRON Pre Retail Release Model

Review Date: 18 December 2021, Review Released: 15 January 2022

DAC Chip: ESS Sabre ES9018K2 (Single), Custom VECLAN Amp Module PCM: Undisclosed, SNR: Undisclosed, Power: 303mW+303mW @33Ω 4.7 Vrms, USB Type-C Female Socket, 4.4mm BAL, 3.5mm SE, 2.5mm & 3.5mm AUX Lineout (Microphone: YES), Metal Chassis

Listening Equipment: Etymotic ER4SR, Fostex T40RP MK3, Shure KSE1500, TIN HiFi T3+, CCA CA16 Pro, KZ ZEX Pro, VE Asura 3.0 FE, VE ZEN 2.0 SLQ, VE Monk SM, LG V50 ThinQ (HiBy Player USB Exclusive Mode & Tidal Masters), Windows 10 Pro USB 3.0 (Foobar2000) Native USB Drivers

LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE ON SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING

MEGATRON Retail Version. Unit No. 001. Named “Valerie” after my favorite Imperial Nightblade Tank.

FOREWORD

The MEGATRON in my possession now is the very first released model right after development stage has been concluded by VE. So, it is not exactly the same retail version that ships to early bird adopters, but the tuning and configuration are final, as per confirmation from VE directly. My first unit sent to me without any of the accessories that will ship together with the retail releases

POWER OBSERVATION

From the get-go, it was apparent to me, due to the astoundingly powerful drive MEGATRON churned out, it is not feasible at all to do listening impressions with the majority of my highly sensitive low impedance IEMs – especially the multi-driver hybrids. For one, in HiBy Music Player USB Exclusive Mode, the absolute minimum volume I can set is at 2/32. And at that volume level there’s no headroom to go lower which means most of my IEMs ended up with unbearable loudness. I have been training my ears to listen at lower volume levels and cranking it higher will only serve to annoy me. Not to forget the level of floor and background noises picked up are audible with these highly sensitive IEMs, much similar to VE Odyssey HD and Ovidius B1. But at least B1 will not be as offensive with some of select few IEMs.So, I have decided that my MEGATRON will NOT be used to listen to anything less than 64 Ohm or higher than 105db of sensitivity – I have other DAC/Amps for that

 Highlights

  • Overall timbre presentation, analogue and organic. Effortless Dynamic Transients
  • Superbly coherent and controlled Dynamics, mature, effortless, and airy
  • Reference grade Treble, Mids and Bass performances, textured and detailed
  • Reference grade Macro and Micro details, crisp imaging
  • Great technical prowess, exceedingly technical and resolving
  • Crisp and clean percussions, guitars, synth, piano, and cello
  • Neutral Mids, realistic Male and Female vocals
  • Excellent Sub-Bass responses and textures, great extensions
  • Reference grade speed and dynamic transients handling
  • Clean layer separation and spatial positioning, great imaging
  • Wide and spacious soundstage with great headroom and depth
  • Astoundingly powerful drive at 4.7 Vrms
  • Steampunk VE signature build quality, very unique
  • Great battery conservation to the host
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge PD supported for the host
  • Multiport capabilities – 3.5mm SE, 2.5mm BAL & 4.4mm BAL, 3.5mm AUX
  • Capable of driving speakers!

 Lowlights

  • MEGATRON does not qualify as compact or portable Dongle
  • NOT suitable for anything less than 64 Ohm or sensitivity above 105 dB
  • Noisy background for highly sensitive IEMs
  • No volume adjuster
  • Line Out AUX does not work with HiBy Music Player USB Exclusive Mode
  • PD Charging only works with the right cable, most Audio USB cable will not work

VERDICT

VE MEGATRON. The essence of this device is simple, it is a purist unit designed for very specific purposes. MEGATRON is practically a desktop class DAC/Amp that “borrows” the dongle moniker simply by being NOT self-powered (no battery inside). But I can easily tell that MEGATRON totally smashed the competition if I am comparing it with my previous DAC/Amp of Topping D10s/A50s stack, or the duo of my Cayin N6ii E02 and N3 Pro DAPs. The only thing that Topping stack winning against MEGATRON, D10s/A50s being cleaner sounding with highly sensitive stuffs. MEGATRON on the other hand will just not work with those sensitive IEMs especially multi driver hybrids. Compared versus the Cayin DAPs, the DAPs does have slightly cleaner AUX feed for external Amp, but that’s about it.

Going back to highly sensitive IEMs, MEGATRON is actually usable if an impedance adapter is used. At the very least 47 Ohm needed and perhaps even 75 Ohm. So to other MEGATRON owners, just get an Impedance Adapter and now the highly sensitive stuffs will work as great with MEGATRON

On the subject of AUX Line Out, it must be noted that VE intentionally de-tuned the output level to 1 Vrms (totally bypassing the Amp stage). Which means it is free from any amplification and will serve as true Lineout. So, while on AUX Lineout mode on my PC, I have to crank the digital volume slider to 100/100 and this will allow my external Amps (RAP5 & Shure KSA1200 Electrostatic Energizer) to do the volume management 100%. Truth be told, I am hard pressed to discern any sonic differences between RAP5 + Questyle M12 versus MEGATRON self-amplification. Perhaps the M12 offering a bit of warmth but really the general SQ and presentation is pretty much on equal terms. What this means, MEGATRON can totally serve as a standalone unit without the need to pair with RAP5 – because the quality level is already pretty similar. However, I don’t have anything higher than RAP5 to test, so I believe pairing MEGATRON with the higher tiered Amps like VE Defiant could produce much better results. It also must be noted that MEGATRON Lineout will not work with HiBy Music Player in USB Exclusive mode, the output will just be full of distortions. To use AUX Lineout on MEGATRON, either stick to Android stock SRC or on PCs.

PD Charging. What sets MEGATRON apart from the rest of my devices is this very special feature. The ability to charge the host while in use. I have tested this feature and I am very pleased to find out that my LG V50 Qualcomm Quick Charge is fully supported. However, in order for this to work, the right cable must be used. For example, I tried Hidizs, Lotoo and Cayin USB cables and they will not work at all. It needed a full-fledged QC compliant USB cable (normally included with the phones). The good news is, VE include the right cable with all retail versions.

One of the original intents for Megatron is gaming. I have spent approximately 70 hours on Fallout 76 using MEGATRON as my DAC/Amp. I am happy to say that MEGATRON served the role perfectly, turning my Fostex T40RP MK3 into a competent gaming headphone with spacious soundstage and sharp precise imaging. Supposedly MEGATRON also quite capable of working with any 3.5mm MIC interfaces, but I did not test this as I don’t have any IEMs or Headphones that has a MIC. The BEST part, MEGATRON is the only DAC/Amp that I have that I actually use for driving my Logitech Gaming speakers! LOL! Yes, it’s that powerful, my Logitech Speakers actually sounding like a HiFi device that can be used both for music and gaming hahahaha.

COMPARATIVE OVERVIEW VERSUS MY FAVORITE DONGLES

There’s no avoiding this, there’s already tons of questions I received asking me to compare MEGATRON vs the other Dongles that I like. So, this is it. I am showing only the differences that I was able to discern from the compared devices

Song: “The Look of Love” Diana Krall. FLAC 24bit/96kHZ, Windows 10 native USB mode for all, Foobar2000

Headphone: FOSTEX T40RP MK3 Magnetic Planar (50 Ohm, 91db)

MEGATRON (4.4mm BAL) VOL = 15/100

CEntrance DACport HD (3.5mm SE) VOL = 40/100

  • DACport HD, the most analogue and organic sounding
  • DACport HD has denser and richer Bass depth
  • DACport HD has amazing Micro details with precise imaging
  • DACport HD has very realistic Mids and vocals, realistically lush and warm
  • DACport has smoother and polished treble decays

Cayin RU6 (4.4mm BAL) VOL = 65/100

  • RU6 has crisp analogue timbre equals DACport HD & MEGATRON
  • RU6 has very precise and audible Micro Details, equals MEGATRON & DACport HD
  • RU6 has very crisp instrument notes, equals MEGATRON & DACport HD
  • RU6 has crisp and polished Treble decays, equals MEGATRON & DACport HD

Ovidius B1 (3.5mm SE) VOL = 35/100 (Surprise!)

  • B1 has flatter neutral Bass responses
  • B1 has very intimate and lush Mids
  • B1 has very airy Treble decays, focus more on smoothness
  • B1 Micro Details imaging just slightly less pronounced vs DACport HD, MEGATRON & RU6

Abigail (3.5mm SE) VOL = 70/100

  • Abigail has very neutral overall sound
  • Abigail has less precision in imaging vs the top dogs
  • Abigail has great soundstage width
  • Abigail Instrument tone crispness not as sharp as the top dogs

VE Odyssey HD (3.5mm SE) VOL = 60/100

  • OHD has the warmest sounding of them all, but very neutral
  • OHD has smoothness level equals Ovidius B1 and DACport HD
  • OHD lacking overall sharpness for imaging and note edge
  • OHD micro details subdued compared to the top dogs
  • OHD has the narrowest soundstage among them all

To summarize, what I am hearing is a performance that hovers alongside the likes of CEntrance DACport HD, Cayin RU6, Apogee Groove and Ovidius B1. With MEGATRON being absolutely supreme on driving power among them all. As noted earlier, not even the stack of Topping D10s/A50s can compete with MEGATRON, but if I am being honest to myself, DACport HD remains the one I love the most for being spot-on with everything I like about sound (which is VERY subjective to my taste).

The biggest strength and appeal of MEGATRON is the uniqueness it offers. A device that is multifaceted (as long as not used with sensitive stuffs) and highly affordable at $50. MEGATRON synergize absolutely sweet with VE own Earbuds. With ZEN 2.0 SLQ and Asura 3.0 FE, the fidelity level is just simply eargasmic. True potential of these earbuds unleashed to the max. And despite being rated lower at 33 Ohm, Monk SM will also sing majestically. This is not a surprise as they all share the same VE DNA.

MEGATRON is here to smash. And smashed it did!

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